FUKUOKA – Right-hander Masaru Nakamura allowed a run in seven innings on Sunday to win for the first time in two seasons as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters came back to beat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 2-1.
Nakamura (1-0) outdueled hard-throwing teenager Shota Takeda. Takeda (4-1), the Hawks’ top pick last autumn, worked six innings at Yahoo Dome and surrendered a two-run homer in the fourth to Sho Nakata as he fell to his first defeat as a pro.
The Hawks, who had scored just one run in each of their previous four games, matched that in the first inning, when Yuichi Honda singled, was sacrificed to second and scored on a single by Wily Mo Pena.
But Nakamura, who effectively mixed an arsenal of solid breaking pitches with a well-located 135-kph fastball, kept the hosts off balance all afternoon. The 20-year-old, who was the Fighters’ top draft pick in 2009, allowed four singles and a walk, while striking out six.
The victory was his first since he won his Pacific League debut on Aug. 11, 2010.
“It certainly has taken a long time (between wins),” said Nakamura. “But in the meantime, I have developed, as one can see by how much my command has improved.”
The Hawks managed to put two on with two outs against Hirotoshi Masui in the eighth, and Hisashi Takeda in the ninth, but failed to push across another run.
Buffaloes 0, Eagles 0 (11)
At Kleenex Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka threw 10 scoreless innings for the second straight game, but this time came up empty as the Eagles played Orix to a scoreless tie in 11 innings.
Tanaka, who allowed six hits, while striking out 11 and walking none, was followed by Koji Aoyama, who threw a scoreless 11th. Rookie southpaw Tomoyuki Kaida threw seven innings in his first career start, and three Buffaloes relievers finished the double whitewash.
Lions 2, Marines 1
At Seibu Dome, Naoya Masuda (1-2) threw a wild pitch that scored the tiebreaking run from third with two outs in the eighth inning, lifting Seibu past Chiba Lotte for its third win in a row.
Esteban German doubled for his third hit of the night, reached third on a sacrifice bunt and came home on Masuda’s errant pitch. Randy Williams (2-2) escaped a two-on jam in a scoreless eighth and Hideaki Wakui picked up his 21st save.
Giants 2, BayStars 1
At Tokyo Dome, Shuichi Murata broke a 1-1 tie with an eighth-inning homer and drove in both of Yomiuri’s runs against his former team as the Giants beat Yokohama to become the first team this season with 70 wins. Yomiuri is 8½ games ahead of second-place Chunichi.
Murata unlocked a scoreless pitchers’ duel with his second hit of the game, an RBI single off Kisho Kagami (2-3), who went the distance for the BayStars. Giants right-hander Ryosuke Miyaguni worked seven scoreless innings, but lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi (3-2) blew the lead in the top of the eighth.
Swallows 1, Dragons 0
At Jingu Stadium, pinch hitter Kazuki Fukuchi broke a scoreless deadlock with a two-out walk-off RBI double off Shinji Tajima (4-3) in the ninth inning as Tokyo Yakult defeated Chunichi.
Lefty Kyohei Muranaka (8-5) threw a complete-game shutout, striking out two and walking three. Chunichi is winless in its last four games, including one tie.
Tigers 3, Carp 1 (11)
At Koshien Stadium, Ryota Arai saved the night with a game-ending two-run homer off Takeru Imamura (1-2) with two outs in the 11th inning, giving Hanshin a win over Hiroshima.
Ryota, the younger brother of the more well-known Takahiro, hit his 10th home run of the season for a career best. Akihiro Higashide opened the scoring with a run-scoring single in the second inning, but Tomoaki Kanemoto tied it with an RBI single in the fifth.